Alghero Travel Guide
Exploring Sardinia: Alghero and the Northeast Coast

waterfront alghero

Alghero, located on Sardinia's northwest coast, is a popular tourist resort with a historic past that makes its language, architecture and cuisine into a sort of cultural stew. The Oziere culture settled here around 4000 BC, then the Nuragic culture, evidenced by all the prehistoric stone towers called Nuraghe, came to stay a while. Alghero has a fortified port built by Genovese, then the Aragonese took it and colonized it with Catalans. The the Spanish Habsburgs came in the 1700s, and in 1720 Alghero and the Island of Sardinia were finally handed over to a party of folks we can call Italians: the Piedmontese House of Savoy took the reins in 1720.

All of this gives Alghero a cultural kick. You'll find hints of southern Spain in your food, you'll detect it in the dialect you might hear on the street--and then there's that great strolling you do with folks from all over the world who congregate here for the fine weather, great restaurants, a bit of roller scating and a bevy of interesting things to do in the city and just outside.

Map: Alghero and Vicinity

The distance between the map markers is easily walkable.



Getting Your Bearings in Alghero

Bastioni Cristoforo Colombo Lungomare, the walking street along the sea, is one of the most beautiful city walks anywhere. The bastione (city walls) Lungomare has been updated (in a rather Catalan style) and folks stroll along the bastione (city walls) --kids play, music wafts by, and there's plenty of room, unlike the narrow little streets (that shelter you from midday heat) of the old down. In the evening, Alghero's version of the Italian passeggiata is one of the best and liveliest in Italy.

Where the streets are small and seem to curve and loop for no reason..that's where you want to be. The old town. Evocative and cool in the summer.

The small airport, Aeroporto di Alghero, is a short distance north of the city. Marked on the map as Aeroporto internazionale di Alghero-Fertilia it's an easy and convenient airport to fly in and out of. There are many connections to mainland Italy. An inexpensive shuttle bus will get you into town running every hour between 6:30 and 22:30 plus 5 and 5:40 am. At time of writing, a ticket costs 1 euro. There is also a taxi stand outside arrivals. Check prices on flights to Alghero using the box on the right.

Food and Drink

You won't likely get seafood much fresher. But then Sardinia isn't just about fish. You can find "il bue Rosso" or the red ox on some menus. It's best slow cooked.

Then there are the many cheeses. Save room after your main course for a small selection of them, especially the pecorino sardo, the Sardinian aged sheep's milk cheese. Of course, there's also the infamous Casu marzo if you dare. Formaggio con vermini is what the rest of Italy calls it, cheese with worms--maggots. It's illegal to serve in restaurants these days, but that doesn't mean you won't come across some if you explore deeply.

If you're lucky enough to be in Alghero in spring, say around the end of March, you'll encounter lots of ricci di mare or sea urchins. Every restaurant will have them when they're plentiful. Snails are another Sardinian specialty, although you might like Aragosta, spiny lobster, better.

Alghero's central market is called La Boqueria, reflecting the Catalan occupation, but on a recent visit we found that times were changing for the market.

Fregola con arselle on an Italian menu indicates a Sardinian semolina pasta type garnished with small clams.

You might also find Anguilla allo spiedo, although it's more popular in the south of Sardinia.

Restaurants are plentiful and range from our favorite sandwich joint the Bar Focacceria Milese on Via Garabaldi 11 (marked on the map) to the traditional La Saletta, which provided a fantasic dinner for four that lasted more than two hours at our last visit, in which we consumed many of our favorites and tried those of which we hadn't tasted. Try "Zuppa Cuata", a baked "soup" with local bread, wild fennel and cheese--which isn't a liquid soup when it's finished cooking, so beware. It's heavy for a summer dish, but warm and comforting on a cool day. The unsqueamish may try the typical lamb intestine dish, a masterpiece of tying offal together called "Cordula di Agnello".

Cocktails

There are a couple of places we like. For the view over Alghero, go to the 9th floor of the four-star Hotel Catalunya. There you'll find cocktails with abundant snacks and a view as you see below. If you stay at the hotel, the cocktail bar turns magically into the breakfast room where you'll get the morning version of this same view.

view of alghero sardinia

For cocktails with a view at the edge of the waterfront, we like the Cafe Latino, especially in the evening as the sun sets, when there's likely to be music to go with your libations. If you like sparkling wine, try a bottle of the local Akènta - Spumante di Sardegna Santa Maria la Palma.

Weather and Climate

Alghero can get hot in the summer, and the tiny streets will provide shade and the sea will provide cooling waters. The pictures below are from March, when the wildflowers were out and daytime temperatures just perfect. For more, see our Alghero Weather and Historic Climate page to pick your kind of weather.

Shopping

Coral Jewelery. That's what tourists crave from the artisans in Alghero. Look for a shop that has it's own production facilities or hire a guide who knows. There is a fake version of coral made from painted black bamboo sold in some places.

Where to Stay

In a resort town like Alghero, it's nice to be able to splurge on a great place to stay. The highly rated Villa Las Tronas Hotel & Spa which is marked on the map sits on a quiet little peninsula that's just a very short walk to where the action is. Highly recommended; I've stayed there and can vouch for the place (which has been recently renovated, by the way). And they have a helicopter pad! How cool is that?

On a recent stay, four of us had a nice stay at Claudia's home 2 in the heart of Alghero. Great walled patio outside and a small but surprisingly efficient kitchen.

Of course, there are many other hotels in Alghero, you can use our search box below to check prices on them.

If you have a car and you don't mind being in the countryside, the Aloe Bed and Breakfast Alghero, an inexpensive three star hotel with a "perfect ten" rating near Mugoni and Lazzaretto Beaches might just be the place for you.

Other countryside options (and there are lots of things to do near Alghero, as you can see if you zoom out the map), include a vacation rental. HomeAway offers over 200 Alghero Vacation Rentals, almost 100 in town.

In the Countryside

Marked on the map are places to go for excursions, like archaeological sites and the famous grotto shown below.

Archaeology Near Alghero--The Two Major Sites

  • Nuraghe Palmavera - There aren't a lot of Nuraghi on the coast, but these twin towers with a courtyard date to 1100 bc and are very nice to see--and it's right off the road, so you can get a view even when it's closed. Update: Recent archaeological excavations have brought to light a third tower belonging to this complex. A recent rise in the number of visitors makes it the second most visited nuraghe after Barumini. A new parking lot is being built to handle the increase in visitors. The visit to Palmavera is open every day during the summer and you can buy a cumulative ticket to visit the Necropolis of Anghelu Ruju on the site.
  • Anghelu Ruju Necropolis - This burial ground near the Alghero airport was discovered when a local winery bought the land and started to dig on it. The site dates to the Early Copper Age (3300-2700 bc) although much of the site has been reused. Both sites can be accessed by a single entrance ticket.

Grotta di Nettuno - Neptune's Grotto

The Grotta di Nettuno is a very popular day trip. Boats leave from Alghero's port every hour in summer for a 2 and a half hour trip to these sea caves. You can also do it by car, taking the Escala del Cabirol, or "Goat's steps" down to the Grotto entrance. There are 656 of them. The stalactites and stalagmites in the caves are dramatically lit.

Where Next?

The drive down the west coast of Sardinia to Bosa is spectacular. Bosa and its surrounding territory is full of things to do. For a splurge, have one of those famous Bosa lobsters while you're there. Shoppers might want to pick up some of the famous Bosa Filet Lace.

Enjoy Alghero and vicinity. You'll love the waterfront.

Sardinia Rail Map Sardinia Provinces Map

alghero waterfront

alghero tower

alghero sunset


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